According to Apptopia, Zoom’s active mobile users in March were 151% higher on average from a year earlier. What does this tell us? Despite the social distancing and stay at home orders, we are still communicating. Students are still learning from teachers, families are connecting via video chat and chances are, you’re still communicating with your fellow employees. COVID-19 has changed so much and made normalcy a thing of a past. But if you’re a leader of a team or even part of a team, the importance of clear communication can not be understated right now. Companies that will thrive during this crisis are those who are focusing on boosting their communication systems and providing transparency to their fellow team members. Here are 7 tips on how to execute great communication skills.
I. Facts, facts, facts.
This probably won’t come as a surprise to you but a worldwide pandemic can tend to make emotions run a little high. High emotions = misinformation, making it hard to know what is and what is not credible. The best way you can combat this cycle is by regularly giving updates on the status of your business. If you are consistently giving information, there will be less room for speculation. Also make time to take questions that your employees or team members might have. The more clear you can be, the more trust you will build. And encourage people to come to you for direct answers rather than mulling it over at the virtual water cooler.
2. Start with a bang.
How often do you find yourself checking out when you believe information isn’t relevant to you? We all do it. So the key to combating this is by sharing the most relevant information right at the start of your meeting or email. This will grasp your team’s attention and hold it for a longer period. Put yourself in the place of your audience. What would you be most worried or anxious about? Hitting goals? The future of the company? Performance metrics during a trying time? Consider these and then make your communication plan accordingly.
3. Practice empathy.
Many are feeling some serious stress right now from the economic downturn and it’s fair to say that most are worried about the future of their jobs. Maybe you’re worried yourself. It can be hard to show empathy and compassion when you’re not feeling 100% but making the effort will go a long way when communicating with employees, team members and even customers. A big part of empathy is simply listening. If you don’t know all the answers when it comes to the stability of your business, communicate that you’re doing the best you can and be there to listen.
4. Humans are the best.
One of the big things that sets Lift Local apart from other similar businesses is that we believe people are always better than robots. And by that we mean that it’s impossible to artificially replicate the special connection that comes from working with real people. That’s why we work so hard to have the best account managers who fulfill and report on all of our customer’s needs. During this social distancing time, most people are craving human connection more than ever! Hold more meetings, not less. Post more genuine content on social media. Reach out to your customers. If communication is not your strong suit, take some time to do some research. There are tons of great articles and books out there to help make you a master communicator.
5. Unite your team.
This morning, we actually had a company meeting on communication. Our CEO shared that as he’s been a part of various sales organizations he’s noticed something interesting. If you have 1 great sales rep who makes 10 sales every week, what happens when you add a second equally great sales rep? You’ll get 20 sales right? Actually, you will get more. In general, people are motivated by their fellow team members, so put 2 great reps together and they’ll thrive. Since social distancing makes this kind of collaboration hard right now, get creative. Utilize Zoom, Slack or Google Hangouts to check in with each other often. Share wins and provide rewards and incentives for growth. It’s also proven that our attitudes and happiness increase when we’re less focused on ourselves and more focused on others. So boost each other up!
6. Look to the future.
When the present is uncertain, turn with an optimistic eye to the future. Remind your team that things will get better, they always do. Use positive language and focus on using “we”rather than “you” or “I.” This simple word swap can bring a feeling of community and an “we’re all in this together” attitude. Tracy Bower, a journalist for Forbes, writes this about COVID-19 communication, “Overall, choose your words carefully. Words have power and leaders have an outsized impact on how employees survive and thrive through periods of uncertainty. People tend to focus on their every word—even if leaders don’t intend their words to have so much impact. Consider your message from every angle and play devil’s advocate as you develop your communication—thinking about how your words will likely be passed from person-to-person and could potentially be (mis)interpreted. Choose words that are accurate and not inflammatory, supportive but not condescending and accessible but not sentimental.”
7. Lift others.
It’s hard to lift others when you don’t feel lifted yourself. However, as a leader or small business owner, you’re in a position where others need you to be their lifting force. Since people are depending on you for some light and inspiration, what can you do? First, keep things real and honest. There’s no need to sugar-coat the situation but you can be real while still using positive and hopeful language. Get creative and problem solve in ways that you haven’t tried before. If there’s ever been a time to try new things, it’s now! Draw on outside inspiration with uplifting books and podcasts. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel, listen to motivational speakers and draw on their wisdom and insight.
Feel free to reach out to us with any questions. We’d love to help you boost your customer engagement during this trying time and are here to help.